Salva Kiir Mayardit, President of the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS), said today that the SPLA will be deployed with immediate effect in western Equatoria, where the Lord’s Resistance Army is causing severe unrest. Speaking during the celebrations of the 26th anniversary of the SPLM\A at John Garang’s Tomb, President Kiir said a large number of SPLA troops will be supplemented to the already existing troops in Western Equatoria to enhance protection of the civilians living in the area.
Since late last year, over five hundred people are said to have died due to the LRA’s presence in the state and over five thousand people have been displaced by the Ugandan rebels’ attacks.
The LRA, whose leaders have been indicted by the International Criminal Court, ICC, in The Hague, retreated to the remote forests of the Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, after Ugandan forces, SPLA and Congo forces launched a joint attack on their base late last year.
The rebels, who initially started their rebellion in Northern Uganda in the 1980s, reached an agreement with Kampala but their leader, Joseph Kony, asked for more guarantees before inking the agreement last year.
Oyai Deng Ajak, SPLA chief of staff, affirmed that the SPLA has been reshuffled into a modern army to provide protective services to the citizens. He supplemented Kiir’s words that arrangements for more SPLA to be deployed in the LRA affected state are already under way.
Gen. Deng also condemned the activities of men in uniform. He said trained SPLA soldiers will be deployed in all areas with insecurity to get rid of the men in uniform who are taking advantage of civilians to quench their selfish desires.
During the celebrations, Antipus Nyok, SPLM deputy secretary for the southern sector, outlined five major reasons why the SPLA took arms on May 16, 1983. According to him, cultural and political identities in the south were lost and the SPLA fought to revive them. The south had no political parties, there was economic marginalization, the SPLA wanted to separate state and religion and finally to fight against apartheid and rationale discrimination.
The SPLA/SPLM birthday was celebrated on the 26th of May due to the Chiefs’ Conference, which coincided with the anniversary day last week.
The celebration drew a huge crowd that concentrated around the tomb of late hero John Garang de Mabior.